Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
Driving around the countryside makes it obvious that it’s harvest time. Corn has been either cut or beginning to get picked, and the beans are starting to come off. Although much of our surrounding states are beginning to experience some drought, around here we had enough water midsummer to assure a more than decent crop. This is what happens every year, and in Ohio, Auglaize, Mercer, and other surrounding counties make this the premier farming area in the state. Depending on conditions, the harvest proves the point.
While farmers are preparing to go great guns bringing in the fall harvest, sportsmen across the state are doing the same thing. Depending on their harvest sport, thousands upon thousands of hunters and fishermen will be in the field or on the water taking game and fish from a generous supply provided with the support of game management and law enforcement personnel. For example, the bow season for deer opened September 30 and runs through February 4. Archery hunters have a long harvest season that runs 128 days. The bow hunting purist will probably be using a long bow or recurved bow. Those wishing to take advantage of the technology will advance to a compound bow, and those who prefer even higher tech might settle on a crossbow designed to create even higher accuracy, velocity and energy. Regardless, an efficient harvest calls for the proper equipment whether it be hunting or farming.
Fall turkey hunters will get a chance to bag another bird of either sex between October 14 and November 26 in select counties. What’s interesting this year is that 11 additional counties have been added to the list where fall turkey hunting is permitted. Auglaize County is closed to fall turkey hunting in 2017, but Hardin, Logan, and Champaign are new. To the north, Allen, Putnam, Paulding, Henry, and Fulton are new. If the trend continues, Auglaize and Mercer might have a fall turkey season as well. Is a fall season detrimental to a turkey population? Wild turkey population research shows that the factors having the greatest effect on long-term turkey population growth are nest success, along with hen and poult survival rates. Ultimately, the wildlife managers will make the call.
Waterfowl hunters will have their opener for ducks and geese on October 21. The first part of the season ends on November 5 in both the north and south zones. Since the dividing lines between the zones are adjacent to Lake St. Marys, area waterfowl hunters could have bonus hunting days if they hunt both the lake and surrounding grain fields, assuming any are left unplowed. Hunters in the north zone can hunt GLSM for ducks from November 18 to December 31. This season was established to give those hunting the lake a greater chance to have open water during the majority of the season. The north zone goose season has the same dates with additional days from January 6, 2018 to February 10. The south zone reopens for ducks on December 16 and runs through January 28. The goose season reopens on November 23 and runs through February 10, 2018. As it stands, Lake St. Marys is in the north zone and the Mercer Wildlife Area is in the south zone. That means I could have a Thanksgiving north zone hunt for ducks on the lake or hunt geese in the south zone at the goose farm. That benefits the local hunters for sure.
While, I’m sure there will be hunters roaming the area as October begins, I’m even surer that fishermen will be doing their best to harvest a supply of fish to last at least through winter. Fall brings cooler temperatures, and the quality of fish tends to respond to those numbers. From reports and personal observations, GLSM has had multiple shad hatches, and game fish gorging themselves before winter will have ample food supplies. The fall crappie fishing has started already, and as the water temperatures drop, expect it to pick up. Crappie fishermen with a boat have a distinct advantage at Lake St. Marys because the area has never been particularly friendly to the bank fisherman. Bass fishermen can enjoy some exciting fishing, especially when school bass start feeding in the shallows. I haven’t heard any reports, but I’m sure that a few fishermen are trying their luck with yellow perch. Stockings have been made, but some research shows that perch are more susceptible to low oxygen than other species. Heavy algae blooms deplete oxygen from the water during the hours of darkness.
October is here, and sportsmen are ready to enjoy what it offers. Hopefully, November and December provide the same benefits before winter sets in. Then, depending on the weather, we wait for spring. That’s the way we play in this part of the country, and that’s a good thing.